Madigan sues Joliet woman for immigration services scam

(CHICAGO) A southwest suburban woman operated a scam to get Illinois residents to pay her thousands of dollars for unlicensed immigration services, according to a lawsuit filed last week by Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Madigan filed the lawsuit Thursday in Cook County against Norma Bonilla, who is alleged to have defrauded at least four people out of more than $10,000 to secure immigration statuses for which they were not actually eligible.

“This scam exploited immigrants at a time when many are seeking assistance due to the recent federal executive actions,” Madigan said in a statement. “Preying on immigrants’ fears and confusion is an appalling scheme, and this lawsuit seeks to stop this fraud.”

Madigan alleges Bonilla is not a licensed attorney or employed by an immigration attorney or any agency authorized to provide immigration assistance services. She also never registered with the attorney general’s office, as required by state law, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges that Bonilla met with customers in their homes, charging them more than $1,000 for immigration records for which the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services only charges $35. She also charged an additional $1,000 for her work, Madigan claims.

The lawsuit states Bonilla never followed through in obtaining the documents and violated the law by never providing clients with a written contract to explain her services or costs.

Madigan warned that Bonilla may still be running the scam, despite not being authorized to do so.

“It is critical to find honest and legitimate assistance and know the warning signs of immigration fraud,” Madigan said in the statement. “I encourage people to contact my office if you encounter a solicitation that seems questionable or if you have already been the victim of fraud. My office does not ask for immigration status.”